I was in a car wreck--how do I get my car fixed?
When your vehicle is damaged in a crash, if you are not at fault the other persons insurance--if they have insurance--will pay for fixing it or the total value. Let's discuss who-what-when-where-how
Towing, storage charges if your car had to be towedThis may not seem to be your first priority but it has to be because typical storage rates, even for a tow lot in the middle of pasture land, is typically $30 or more PER DAY! First, do you have insurance with "collision?" Even if you have a deductible, this will pay for towing but you have to tell your company
soon after the crash. The other person's insurance is also responsible, but you have to make sure they are covering this crash. Their bill may not have been paid and they cancelled, or maybe the driver was an "excluded driver" so they aren't covering. In short, you can't rely on the other driver or their insurance taking care of everything. That's why you want to notify your company.
If you don't have insurance and the other driver doesn't, if the car can be fixed you need to make arrangements to pay for the tow and storage--you want your car out of there as it's mounting storage costs. If it's fixable, then have it towed to whoever you'd want to fix it if you can pay to have it fixed.
If it's fixable, but you can't afford that, have it towed to wherever you can have it sit while you get the money together. If it sits in the towing yard, then it's racking up more storage fees.
If it's totaled, and there is no insurance on anyone, then most towing places will agree to accept the title in exchange for towing and storage.
Above all, whether there is insurance or no insurance, take photos of the car from different angles as you want a record of what the damage looked like.
I'm not sure if my car is a total loss--can I get it fixed? Who decides?The insurance company will decide if they want to pay to have the car fixed or "totaled." It's their choice.
If it's not a total loss, check the next section on car repairs. If it is a total loss their obligation is to pay the value of the car --which means market value not replacement value. Think of it as the value your car would sell for if sitting on a dealer lot the minute before the wreck. It's not the asking price but the average selling price. They can determine this through "book values" or databases (most common is "The CCC valuation system." They can also use the "dealer quote method."
If they total your car ask for the "valuation sheet." this says how they got to the value they did. You want to check it to see if they are missing any special equipment you had with it.
Did they add in for the new tire you had put on the left front? For the special sound system you had installed?
On the dealer quotes, if you want to get another price it has to be signed, dated, and on dealer letterhead. Understand they can then call that dealer or other dealers and get their own quotes.
(the ccc valuation system uses classified and other ads on a regional basis).
Note: some policies give you replacement value. You rarely see this but if you are dealing with your company it's good to check your policy.
If it's totaled and you want to fix it understand if you fix it any problems are on you. For instance if the car can never be in alignment, that's your problem.
Also understand if you decide to fix a totaled car, you have to turn in your title to get a "salvage title" sometimes called a "junk title."
Finally, understand if you want to fix a total loss car you have to pay back to the company the "salvage value " of the vehicle. There is a squish factor there.You may be able to bargain.
If the car is being totaled because it is an older car and the value is low, it may be worth fixing if you can fix it and get it inspected. If your shop isn't sure, don't do it. You'll have a car you paid to fix that ends up still not working and that's it on property damage!
If your car looks to be a total loss, look for the title--you'll need it! (read below)
My car can be fixed. What happens? do I get rental?If your car can be fixed you want to have whoever you would want to fix it look at it. if it is a late model car under warranty, you may want to have the dealer look at it in case there is mechanical work that is better off done by the dealer to preserve the warranty. Either way, by having whoever you'd want to fix it give you an estimate, if the insurance company appraisal comes in lower you can have your repair people deal with the insurance company.
Can they use non-OEM parts? in Pennsylvania they may on certain systems, not on others.
What about car rental? If you have rental on your policy it will pay car rental.
If you don't have car rental, the other persons insurance will pay if it is the fault of the other driver. If they dispute fault, or claim you are partly at fault they won't pay all of the rental bill.
NOTE: on car rentals, they only have to rent you a compact with no frills--if your car was a fancier car, they only have to pay at the "basic" rate--not the rate equivalent to the car they creamed.
My car can be fixed but I'm worried it won't be worth as much. Do they have to pay?The problem here is whether or not the repairs will trip a car history that the car has been in an accident and show up on a car fax report. It's hard to tell what will show up and what won't.
Unfortunately, in Pennsylvania and in most states you don't get "loss of market value/depreciation" on your fixable vehicle unless you have a policy that covers that. That's why it's important, if you weren't at fault and were injured, to call us as you may have an injury claim.
They sent me a release. Should I sign it?The release for car damage should say "for property damage only." DO NOT SIGN A RELEASE THAT SAYS 'RELEASE OF ALL CLAIMS' or " hereby releases _________from any or all claims "
Powers of attorney to execute title changes are OK if your car is totaled out, you agree on the value, and it's a standard item needed for them to deal with your car and it's title.
I was hurt--do I still have a claim for my injuries?As long as you don't release "all claims" you do. Contact us if you've been injured in a wreck that wasn't your fault and we'll be happy to give you a free consultation so that you Know Your Rights (sm).
The damage to your vehicle and your injury claim are separate. The insurance company for the other driver will try to make you a "package deal" but this is never a good idea, as I'll explain in a later article.